Official: Zarqawi Eluded U.S. in Feb. Raid
1 hour, 44 minutes ago
Top Stories - AP
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - U.S. forces in Iraq believe they just missed capturing most-wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a February raid that netted two of his associates, a senior U.S. military official said Tuesday.
AFP/US ARMY-HO Photo
The official, who discussed the operation on the condition of anonymity, could provide no details on how Zarqawi escaped. U.S. forces recovered a computer belonging to Zarqawi, the official said, although he did not say how it was obtained.
[Later, the official was heard to scream out in frustration, "AND IT WAS STILL WARM!"]
Iraqi officials announced the Feb. 20 raid at the time but did not say Zarqawi was the target.
At a Pentagon news conference, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would only say, "we were close," but declined to elaborate, citing concerns about disclosing operational details.
[Operational details like "We were close, but no cigar, no cigarette, no hookah, no opiates...but some cool rugs that ought to fetch a great price on eBay"]
"I think in general the intelligence is getting better. Having said that, we still don't have Zarqawi," Myers said.
['Zarqawi' being the code name the military has allocated for dog feces. Intelligence getting better meaning Rumsfeld left the country again.]
Questioned about the level of insurgency in Iraq compared to last year, Myers said, "In terms of incidents, it's right about where it was a year ago."
[Reporters immediately jumped to their feet and asked if anyone remembered it sucking so bad for reporters fatality-wise last year, but everyone complained of a fog-like dimming of memory and headed for the hosted bar that is present at every briefing.]
Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, is believed to have orchestrated a relentless wave of car bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and beheadings across the country.
[President Bush was reported to have said "With that much weight on him, you'd think it's be easy to find the sonofabitch. I mean, $25 million has got to be pretty heavy, right? I mean, I think I'd see him if he was peramputating down Lincoln sidewalk."]
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said of Zarqawi, that "in terms of lethality, I would rank him quite high," but added, "I think he is on the run. Life for a terrorist, extremist is hard."
[After questioning Rumsfeld extensively about the word 'lethality' and whether he thought he should get credit for it the next time Webster's revised its dictionary, reporters then proceeded to wipe the tear from Rummie's eye, because they appreciate just how much he knows about how hard it is being an extremist]
Troops with a covert military unit were reportedly in place to arrest him as he was on his way to Ramadi, but he caught wind of them, ABC News reported late Monday, citing an unidentified senior military official.
[New shower stalls are being rushed to the battlefront to negate this heretofor unknown disadvantage]
The official said that just before the meeting was scheduled, a car was pulled over as it approached a checkpoint. A pickup truck trailing the car then turned and headed in the opposite direction.
[The pickup truck leaving is a classic Iraqi insurgent move known locally as "How did a checkpoint get put here in the middle of Iraq?" ]
Officials believe Zarqawi was in the fleeing truck, but when U.S. teams pulled the vehicle over several miles later, he was not inside, ABC reported. The official told the network that Zarqawi apparently jumped out of the vehicle when it passed beneath an overpass and hid there before escaping.
[Anonymous officials in Washington are said to have asked "Iraq has underpasses?"]
Inside the truck, the official told ABC, U.S. troops found Zarqawi's computer and about $104,000.
NBC, quoting U.S. military sources, reported Tuesday that among the items seized with the laptop were several small plug-in hard drives. Numerous pictures of Zarqawi were found in the computer's "My Pictures" file, the network said.
[Reporters questioned Bill Gates as to how Zarqawi could have come into possession of something as sensitive as "My Pictures". Gates is quoted as saying "As long as a user is not gay we see no legal problem funding any foundation."]
Captured in the Feb. 20 operation was Talib Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah, an Iraqi government announcement said at the time.
[President Bush was quick to point out the dishonesty inherent in somebody who uses aliases. "Why, I remember back in the day when I'd be talking with Kenny-Boy and Big Dick..."he began right before he was shuttled off to a completely aboveboard Town Council meeting. ]
Qutaybah "filled the role of key lieutenant for the Zarqawi network, arranging safe houses and transportation as well as passing packages and funds" to Zarqawi, the government said.
It said Qutaybah was a known associate of other Zarqawi lieutenants already held by coalition forces, including Abu Ahmed, an al-Qaida-linked insurgent leader in the northern city of Mosul, who was detained Dec. 22.
During the same raid, Iraqi forces captured another Zarqawi aide who "occasionally acted as his driver," the government said. He was identified as Ahmad Khalid Marad Ismail al-Rawi, who also helped arrange meetings for al-Zarqawi. He also is known as Abu Uthman.
[Translated into English, Ahmad Khalid Marad Ismail al-Rawi loosely means The One Who Drives The Bad Man To The Bath House and Gets Him His Towel Thereby Making Himself A Bad Man's Bad Cabana Boy].